Green Solutions for your Home and Family

Updated January 18, 2018
green solutions for home
11110002.00_00_29_18­.Still002.png ZeraTM Food Recycler is a Whirlpool brand in-home kitchen composter.
Photo courtesy of WLabs of Whirlpool Corporation

Things that are bad for the environment are generally not good for people, either, since humans depend on a healthy environment in order to remain in good health themselves.

Pollution is one of the biggest threats to the environment, and it is one that humans cause and therefore can mitigate. Waste is another problem that threatens the environment. It causes a reduction in natural resources such as food, drinkable water, and trees that help produce breathable air that humans need in order to survive. The best way to reduce waste and pollution is to go green. Going green means to adopt a lifestyle that reduces the waste of natural resources and cuts down on the pollution of the environment. While industries, which are major sources of pollution, must go green to protect the environment, regular people can make a positive contribution at home as well. When a household decides to become more environmentally friendly, this not only has a positive effect on their health and the health of the world around them, but in some cases, it may also reduce their cost of living and be economically beneficial.

Recycling

When a household chooses to forego throwing used items in the trash in favor of processing them into new products, it is called recycling. This typically means separating certain materials out to be collected and taken to recycling centers. These materials include paper or paper products as well as containers or other items made of copper, aluminum, glass, or plastic. Used computer equipment and other electronic items, known as e-waste, can also be recycled. Recycling benefits the environment by preventing items from taking up space in a landfill. It also reduces the amount of natural resources that must be taken from the environment to make new products. In turn, this means a reduction in energy use and the pollution that comes with it. As a result, recycled products are often more affordable to make and buy. It is also possible to recycle items by putting them to use in ways they were not originally intended for. For example, adding an old pillow to a cardboard box or a used wooden crate can serve as a bed for a pet.

  * Frequently Asked Questions: Benefits of Recycling

  * Reducing and Reusing Basics

  * Why Is it Important to Recycle Computer Equipment?

  * What Is Recycling?

  * Recycling at Home

  * Waste Prevention at Home

Composting

People who enjoy gardening can go green by producing a rich organic fertilizer at home using a process known as composting. This is a form of recycling that reuses plant material and certain types of food waste that would otherwise go into a landfill. Materials that can be composted include leaves, branches, and grass as well as coffee grounds, tea leaves, sawdust, eggshells, and vegetable and fruit waste that people normally throw in the trash. Napkins, pizza boxes, paper bags, cotton balls, and cardboard boxes can also be composted, as they are made from wood products and are organic in nature. Composting provides many benefits, including the reduction or elimination of soil erosion, increased soil moisture content, enhanced nutrients for gardens and lawns, and more. The added benefit of eliminating the need for toxic pesticides not only results in less usage of petroleum but also a reduction in runoff that can pollute the water supply.

  * Composting for the Homeowner

  * Composting Is Good for Your Garden and the Environment (PDF)

  * Compost Resources: How to Compost

  * Composting (PDF)

  * Preparing and Maintaining the Compost Pile

  * Backyard Composting of Yard, Garden, and Food Discards

Water Conservation

Access to water that is safe for human consumption is one of the most basic necessities for survival, but less than one percent of all water available on Earth is usable for our needs. Conserving water at home is important in order to ensure that there is enough to go around. It also offers an economic benefit in the form of not only reduced water utility bills but also less electricity consumption for the distribution of water. Homeowners and other residents can cut down on water waste by avoiding baths and taking shorter showers, installing low-flow water faucets and toilets, and washing full loads in laundry machines and dishwashers. Fixing leaky faucets and pipes is another way to significantly reduce water waste, as undetected leaks can use thousands of gallons per year. An appealing landscape does not necessarily need to require excessive water use, either. Drip irrigation systems save a significant amount of water compared to sprinklers, and planting drought-tolerant plants such as succulents can reduce the need for landscape water use.

  * Why Conserve Water? (Video)

  * Water Conservation Tips

  * Looking for Ways to Save Water?

  * Make Every Drop Count

  * Five Ways You Can Conserve Water on World Water Day

  * Conserve Energy to Save Water

Energy Conservation

People use a number of different types of fuel in everyday life, most of which are harmful to the environment because they must be burned to produce electricity and power vehicles. These include oil, natural gas, coal, and other fossil fuels. Energy conservation helps to reduce the pollution that comes from burning fuel, including smog that is harmful to human health and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. It is also beneficial to households because it results in lower utility bills. To reduce consumption of gasoline, people can ride together in carpools, take public transportation, practice fuel-efficient driving techniques, or buy a car that is more fuel-efficient, such as a gasoline-electric hybrid or an electric car. At home, turning off lights in rooms that aren't occupied and disconnecting appliances and electronic devices that aren't in use are some of the many ways that people can save electricity. Bundling up in warmer clothes during the winter can reduce the need to use electricity for heating, as can checking home insulation and upgrading to energy-efficient windows. Larger projects around the home can include installing solar panels, taking some of the workload off of fossil fuel-based power plants.

  * Benefits of Energy Conservation

 * Small Steps to Conserve Energy

 * Top 11 Things You Didn't Know About Saving Energy at Home

 * Why Is Fuel Economy Important?

 * Easy Ways to Save Energy at Home

 * Natural Gas Conservation Tips

Green Cleaning Tips

Keeping a home clean is important for the sake of a household's collective and individual health. However, many modern cleaning chemicals are toxic and can contribute to environmental pollution by leaching toxins into the water and reducing the quality of indoor air. Environmentally friendly cleaning solutions are better for one's health and can also be more gentle on a home budget, especially when they involve the use of homemade ingredients or methods. Vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide often work well in home cleaning projects as replacements for chlorine bleach. Borax and baking soda make effective environmentally friendly abrasives for removing oily dirt and grease, and sodium carbonate is useful against difficult stains. Many types of household plants, like spider plants and English ivy, also make an efficient filter for pollutants within the home and can contribute to cleaner air and better overall household health.

  * Spring "Green" Cleaning Tips (PDF)

  * Cleaning Healthy, Cleaning Green (PDF)

  * Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Supplies

  * Eco-Friendly Cleaning Recipes

  * Spring Cleaning the Natural Way

  * Green Cleaning